Sunday, June 27, 2010

Kenya's New Constitution

This August Kenya will decide whether to accept the newly proposed constitution. The line has clearly been drawn between those for and against. The Government is strongly pushing for this constitution to pass, with only a few (but some high ranking) Members of Parliament opposed. However, the churches here in Kenya are highly opposed to this new constitution, due to a few very controversial clauses.

One of the contentious issues is the clause that references abortion. While the constitution guarantees a person's right to life, and states that life begins at conception, it goes on to say that they are instances where abortion is legal. the exact wording says, "Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law." The problem with this is that the wording has been changed from current law and the previous constitution draft. Currently, the wording says "registered medical practitioner". This makes a huge difference here in Kenya, where there are many people who qualify as "trained health professional", including pharmacists and even so called "herbalists", also known as witch doctors!

The second issue deals with Islamic law and the inclusion of Islamic courts in the country. If passed, the constitution will allow for government funded Islamic courts. While these courts will have jurisdiction only over issues related to inheritance, marriage and divorce, and personal status, this is just the first step in the allowing of full Islamic law to be introduced.

The battle lines have been drawn, and there has been violence over this constitution. Two weeks ago, during a prayer rally for the "NO" camp, three grenades were set off in a large crowd of demonstrators. Six people were killed, and over 100 more were injured. This happened at a park about 3 miles from our house.

Please pray for peace in Kenya during this time. Kenya doesn't have the most stable of governments, and recent elections have not gone smoothly. Please keep this nation in your prayers, and our family, too. Please pray that God would protect us, and give us wisdom in how to best serve this nation that God has called us to.

Jonathan (for the Ferguson 5)